Interview

IS THAT YOUR REAL NAME?
No. I haven’t used my real name since entering the witness protection program. Actually, Mary Kay Andrews is a combination of my children’s names—Mary Kay for my daughter Mary Kathleen, and Andrew, for my son, Andy.

WHY A PSEUDONYM? ARE THERE ANY OUTSTANDING WARRANTS UNDER YOUR REAL NAME?
After publishing ten mysteries under my real name, which is Kathy Hogan Trocheck, I started hearing voices. The voices told me to write a completely new kind of story, under the name Mary Kay Andrews. They did not tell me to shave my head, move to Mars, or start a new religion, fortunately. Truthfully, since SAVANNAH BLUES, my first book after the Callahan Garrity series, was so different from my previous work, I decided to write under a pseudonym. It’s been very liberating to become someone else—if only for a few hours a day. As far as I know, I’m not wanted by the law under either name.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH YOU AND ANTIQUES?
I’ve always had a passion for antiques, which is why I made Weezie Foley, the protagonist of the Savannah Blues trilogy, including the forthcoming BLUE CHRISTMAS, an antique dealer. My late mother was a world-class junker who thought nothing of picking up a discarded armchair from the side of a road, and I’ve inherited that tendency. I don’t play tennis or golf or bridge. My sport is extreme junking. When I tour, I spend off-hours haunting antique stores or flea markets. When I’m home, you can find me most Friday or Saturday mornings saddled up with my junk posse, off to an estate sale.

YOUR NOVELS ARE FULL OF WACKY SOUTHERN CHARACTERS. ARE THEY FOR REAL?
I write fiction, so my characters are totally a product of my over-active imagination. But all my characters are, in some way, inspired by the kind of people who live in my world—the South. Since I’ve never lived anywhere outside the South, I don’t know what normal looks like.

FAMILY PLAYS A BIG PART IN YOUR FICTION. IS YOUR FAMILY AS SCREWED UP IN REAL LIFE?
No. Yes. Well, maybe. I come from a big, ethnic Catholic family, and that’s probably why I use a pseudonym. So they can’t sue. Like the fictional families that people my novels, my own family tends to put the fun in dysfunctional. But that’s probably a Southern thing. We don’t just accept eccentricities, we celebrate them. Instead of hiding our klepto cousin in the basement, we tend to set them right out on the front porch and say things like, “Bless her heart, she never could resist taking that five-finger discount.”

WHAT’S YOUR NEXT BOOK ABOUT?
So far, it’s about 200 pages. See, I can’t not be a smart-ass. Actually, DEEP DISH is a story about two rival television chefs, each fighting for a spot on a national cooking network. Regina Foxton, a former Atlanta food writer, hosts a regional public television show about healthy Southern cooking called Fresh Start. And Tate Moody, her nemesis and arch-rival, has a kill it and grill it concept show called Vittles, on the Outdoor Living Network. What happens when a man and a woman compete head to head for the same big stakes goal? Stay tuned!